Caleb Segal had been walking on air for the past twenty-four hours. Even his dog noticed how much the usually calm artist was full of energy and seemed to be filled with literal joie de vivre. Over the past year, he’d been finding that sometimes unexpected experiences were the ones that revived his spirit the most. Such had been the case of Octavia Ivakov. Her presence in his life had been constantly surprising, but he was slowly starting to get used to waking up and looking forward to the unknown with the same enthusiasm that he had when he was a child and early light had gotten him out of bed in the morning with a leap and grin. The last night that he’d spent with Octavia had nearly stopped time. He’d fallen asleep at 6 am with more peace in his heart than had been there in years. The next time that he woke up, it was evening and the sun was setting through the open window. Caleb stretched his arms, yawning, as he stumbled out of bed and greeted his golden retriever, who was moping on the floor. “Feeling bored, Chasse?” He chuckled, bending down to nuzzle the dog’s head. “Je suis desole, mon ami.”

He’d been distracted lately. “Can I buy your love with a long walk?” 

The dog woofed happily and thumped his tail against the floor as Caleb reached for his clothes, shoes, and the leash. For several years now, their favorite path had looped around a nearby lake and run by the very gazebo that had become a shelter for Caleb and his new favorite person in Evermore. As he jogged past, a silent grin snuck up his face. He’d never thought that this would be something present in his life again, but as it slowly came into focus, the young man felt at peace with the idea. As he thought of her smile and the way her bright eyes could shine in the dark, Caleb found his feet coming to a stand still at the front of the lake. It was mesmerizing in the soft sunset, but what was happening in his heart was what made him notice. Chasse pulled at the leash, frustrated with his owner’s lingering, and Caleb gave one last long look towards the gazebo, before turning back to his home and running the three miles back on a brand new burst of energy.  

When Caleb approached his home, it was already dark. He pulled out his cellphone to light the way and thumbed through the screen before settling on the texts and typing. It took a moment; but the answer came through. He almost felt more nervous now that the answer was yes.

His entire morning had been spent on the go. Caleb couldn’t help that he wanted to impress her. The first few trips out to the dock had been spent with Malva, setting up a small magical boundary around the gazebo so that it all but disappeared, shielded from view. One of the magical elements that he’d found in all their moments was privacy and the aspect of elements had seemed amused but happy to help accomplish pulling out all the stops to impress her guard. Next, he visited a local restaurant and picked up dinner, before picking up a bouquet of flowers, and stopping back home to shower, dress, and pay the dog sitter.  

There was a bouquet of orchids and baby’s breath in his left hand and he was dressed smartly in a pair of nice jeans and a button up shirt. The dock on which he was standing reminded him of his childhood, but somehow, less lonely. In the distance, Caleb saw a familiar face edging towards him and his heart skipped a beat in chest. He smiled bashfully, meeting her at the edge of the water and reaching for her fingers, intertwining them in his own. When he was around her, he felt strong. A million french thoughts were racing through his mind as he gazed down at her soft eyes. After so long and so many missed chances, it seemed like life was finally moving forwards and away from grief. Perhaps, finally, he’d found a place to put down roots and someone to grow with. “Hi,” It seemed like such an ordinary greeting, but he’d look forward to a million of them. “Sleep at all after that adventure?” 

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She had to admit, the experience she had in the past 24 hours wasn’t one she could have ever predicted or expected. After getting home that morning she had been rightfully sleepy but at the same time she felt more alive than she had in a very long time. For a while now, Octavia had been pushing aside her emotions, everything else came first and her own happiness second. She had felt the flip tonight, a flip which made her feel jittery and light-headed. It reminded her of the earlier and more simple times when she was in the guard and she had the freedom to go explore, to meet anyone she wanted and express herself in ways she never expected.

For once, she fell into what felt like a restful sleep and when she awoke hours later, most of the day had passed away. The guard didn’t have any scheduled missions which meant she was free to spent her time just going with the flow. She took a walk out to the gardens to visit Mal in her greenhouse and make sure she wasn’t getting into trouble. The aspect of magic had made a comment about how she seemed extra smiley today but the blonde brushed it off with a shrug of her shoulders before she was on her way.

Her mind kept drifting to Caleb and the night they had spent together, seeing the excitement and the life in his eyes, how he lit up light a string of fairy lights cascading one at a time. Honestly she never thought she would see that side of him because he always seemed to reserved to her before, he had this quiet thoughtfulness about him which she admired but also made him seem distant. Now she knew he didn’t want to be distant at all. As if he could read her mind, she heard the ping of a message on her phone and smiled because she knew exactly who it would be.

He’d asked her to meet him and she swore her heart did a little leap in her chest like it was celebrating before she finally typed back, confirming when to meet and then heading back to her room to get ready. She hadn’t prepared for a date in the longest time so it took her a few rounds of back and forth before deciding on an outfit. A soft, floral sundress that fit loose around her and her hair pulled back into a neat ponytail with a few blonde wisps framing her face. It didn’t take her long to make her way out to the manor and over towards the gazebo, the place that had become theirs over the past few months.

She wondered for a moment what he had been planning because his texts had been awfully coy but she decided to play along because honestly, she quite liked surprises. She made her way towards him, noting how he looked really handsome in his smart shirt, her head tipping back a little to look up at him as she place her hand into his “Hey” she responded to his greeting as her hand squeezed against his for a moment, her eyes dropping to the bouquet in his hand which made her smile because she did love flowers. “I did actually...which is rare for me...guess it must have been a really...really good night” her gaze flicked back to him and she smiled softly “You know most guys play it cool before texting” she teased him a little, she didn’t mind of course, she liked knowing he wanted to see her and be with her.

After last night, Caleb would have been content to sit quietly in the evening with Octavia and enjoy her company like the old days It was difficult to understand where the lines overlapped and what he should do next with every butterfly that leaped off him. He was beginning to see that if he wanted Octavia in his life, he was going to need to let down some of the walls that he had built when Ava had disappeared. For the past two years, he'd been so determined to make things work that he'd distanced himself, even from friends, and loved ones. From people that he knew cared for him deeply. In order to be around Tavia, that had to change. He had to be willing to let in things that he knew could hurt him. From now on, living in the moment had never been more important. As she walked towards him in her flowing dress, he had to remind himself to tuck his smile away in favor of sincerity. Despite he was nervous and his heart felt like it was jumping out of place, Caleb did not want to push her away by being too excitable. He pressed the bouquet into her fingers, feeling some of his nervous energy seem to float away as their fingers knit.This was the new normal - with hands in his that were new, but he liked holding. It was a balancing act of eagerly looking into the future, but not going so fast that his past overwhelmed him. 

Caleb handed over the flowers with a bashful look on his face. "My family, um, loves nature. My aunt once taught me the language of flowers. I still remember parts, so I tried to pick something...nice. Orchids represent trust, of many things, and baby's breath is..." He bit his lip. "Innocent love...beginnings."

Beginnings were good. 

He was glad that she had finally fallen asleep after the kerfuffle of emotions last night. Despite that Caleb was unsure of a lot right now, he knew that she was precious to him. Her big eyes and kind smile made him feel things that he had not been willing to confront in many years. The entire night had been surprising, but what blew him away the most was that she felt the same. He'd spent many nights awake, wondering if his bedtime confidant would only ever see him as a friend; but, then she'd held onto his hand and he'd felt brave. Brave enough to kiss her in public and not care that anyone saw. Just as it often did, when they were together everything else faded into the background or slowed down. Before they'd realized, it was morning, and everything had changed. This lake and this gazebo had become theirs over the last year. While occasionally, it boasted other guests, there was no one else so dedicated to it's occupancy. They'd spent many nights together in the past, but before last night there hadn't been proof of what they shared. Now, it wasn't just something he had to wonder about. He could look at her and let the curiosity exist. Before, their nights had been ones where his kissing her had been nothing but an idea. Now, it was real.

Caleb chuckled as her joke landed and those soft eyes gazed up at him. He curled his fingers into hers and lead her forwards, glancing back playfully. He only stopped at the edge of the lake, where their gazebo usually sat. Instead of the white marble structure was nothing but air, cloaked in a shimmering mask of light. He bent down and picked up one of the smooth rocks and suddenly their regular abode slipped into view, once again. The normally pillared but empty walls had been decorated with silk curtains to hide them away from view and the floor was covered in comfortable pillows and blankets, all vibrant reds and pinks. "I am sufficiently out of practice, Tay. I hope you won't mind that I had a little help with the scenery tonight."

Caleb settled against the blankets, stretching his long legs out on the floor; a soft smirk tugging his lips up towards the right. "But, we are all alone. For as long as you want to disappear."

She had to admit she was nervous, it wasn’t exactly like she was all that experienced in dating and this wasn’t just someone she had met at a bar or had a few surface level conversations with. They’d know each other long enough to make a real connection, one which she was beginning to cherish and to feel protective over. Her eyes followed his hand before the flowers were placed into her hand and she let a smile, slightly giddy smile cross her face as she lifted them so she could study them. She listened to his explanation of them while she stared at them, a light blush resting on her cheeks “They’re beautiful, thank you” she spoke softly and couldn’t resist leaning in for a moment just to smell them “Malva taught me a bit about the language of flowers too...swear that girl never leaves her greenhouse” she laughed and bit her lip as she raised her gaze to meet his.

His expression was soft and open, she felt like she was able to see deeper into his emotions than she had been able to before. Last night had opened the flood gates for both of them it seemed and that vulnerable expression they shared told her they were both a little scared. Yet they were here which meant everything. She looked around, noting that the gazebo they usually whiled the night away in, was hidden from view. Of course, she had enough experience with magic by now to know how to sense its presence which made her give an amused smile because he must have called in a favor to pull something like this off. Which flattered her because it meant he had put effort into tonight.

She widened her eyes when he tossed the stone through the veil to reveal the all-too-familiar structure but also the added touches which made her press her lips together and smile in response “You didn’t have to do all this” she insisted but the look on her face told all there needed to tell about how she was happy someone had made the effort. “We all need a little help sometimes” she teased softly before pulling ahead and tugging him towards the space he had cleared before choosing what she thought looked like a comfortable spot and sitting down against it.

“You really have this introvert date perfected through and through” she teased with an amused smile as she laid down and propped a pillow under her chin so she could still look up at him for a while “This is...very new for me the way” she commented and nodded her head “Like...1000 years new” there wasn’t any point in shielding any part of herself away from him, if they were going to explore the what-ifs then he should know the person he was considering that with “I was nervous but...not so much now” she offered a half-smile, she felt comfortable with him, he was the kind of person they resonated with assurance.

Caleb had never earned a gold medal with dating himself. He’d spent most of his years before college alone in his room either doing art or listening to the kind of music that would probably seem extraordinarily emo now. Originally, he’d resented the entire idea of moving to a new country and starting life over just to learn things he already knew; but his aunt had given him a letter that his mother wrote when he was born and of everything else it said, it talked about how she’d always dreamed of going to art school. How she’d left that dream behind to be his mother. Perhaps it was guilt that made him accept the new path; perhaps it was his desire to get out of Annecy. Looking back, it was hard to tell. Going to school in Boston after living in a small town in the French alps for eighteen years had come with major culture shock. Not only did he learn that his English was far from advanced, but he struggled to make real connections. It had been so easy to miss classes, spend his time at the sorority parties, and drown his sorrows in drinking. Only when he was told that if he didn’t bring up his grades, did it become more. His red haired tutor annoyed him beyond belief, but Caleb finally had found a friend amid a campus of thousands. It was easy to look back on those times and ask himself what he’d been thinking, but the young man was coming to a slow appreciation for everything he’d learned — even if it had come through a hard lesson. “My aunt’s greenhouse was one of my favorite places growing up.” He mused softly. “We grew our own flowers and once a week, she would drive them into the city on a rickety old blue truck.”  

“I spent a lot of time there growing up. Doing my homework. Hiding from people.” His eyes crinkled and he rolled onto his side to face her. “I’ve always been an introvert.” 

The curtains around them shimmered in the light, giving the silk a soft glow. He’d been told that the barrier would stay in place for six hours and make them completely invisible to the world. He’d appreciated that the Aspect of Magic hadn’t asked too many questions and he got the feeling that she already knew more than perhaps even he did about the long nights that he’d spent with Octavia on the lake. “I think you get to know people a lot better when there isn’t the pressure of everyone staring. People can be awfully nosy.” 

He reached and gently broke off a strand of the small white blossoms from the bouquet and tucked them behind her ear. “I know I didn’t have to, but I wanted deserve to feel special.” 

Caleb reached for her hand, softly knitting his fingers between hers, one at a time. He wanted to memorize her touch. He echoed her half smile and pulled one of the blankets up around her shoulders. The past thirty-six hours had been a whirlwind. His thoughts had been more prone to wandering than usual, only they seemed to return to the same place. Back to Octavia. He didn’t remember what it had been like before, but for him it so often happened all at once. As Cal blinked and looked into her green eyes, he couldn’t deny it. He had feelings for her. “I am...nervous, too.” The Frenchman said, biting his lip. “We can be nervous together.” 

Her experience in life lately mostly revolved around her work, being a guard was part of her identity and that left very little separation in her life between working and personal life. She’d accepted that reality before and she supposed it was made easier for her when her entire family were part of the guard. Trying to find that separation was new for her and honestly she didn’t feel like she was great at it but she knew it was in her best interests to try and branch herself out a little. She smiled when he mentioned his love for his aunt’s greenhouse and tending to the flowers “I can see the appeal, getting away for a while and just being alone with nature is...peaceful” the two of them would know a little about it considering they had met in the first place because each of them wanted to get away and think for a little while.

Her green hues, lifted to meet his as she noticed he had rolled to face her. She couldn’t help but admire the glimmering veil of magic that surrounded them with an amused expression. It wasn’t hard to guess who he had called in a favor from in order to get a cloaking smile “Mal must have a soft spot for you” she commented with an amused smile in his direction “Or maybe it’s for me” she commented shaking her head slightly. Either way there wasn’t any way she could hide the fact she was meeting Caleb tonight from the aspect of magic, she did need her say so for a night off after all.

“They can” she responded and nodded her head slightly “Though I don’t really fear what people think...I this case I think the quiet is what we both need” they weren’t the kind of people who felt the need to flaunt their own lives in front of others and preferred to keep private matters to themselves. She could respect his quiet and thoughtful nature, honestly she quite admired it. She raised a questioning brow when he picked up one of the flowers and broke it off, only for a soft rosy blush to rest on her cheeks when he brought it to tuck against his ear “Well then thank you” she responded, nodding her head slightly.

She liked the feeling of his hand in hers, his were larger but still soft to the touch and so warm. It was reassuring to her having that touch and also knowing that he wouldn’t let go until he absolutely had to. Right now she needed that, someone to stay and be a constant because the world was changing so much around them and sometimes it was hard to keep up with it all. She laughed softly when he said they could be nervous together “Well at least that means neither of us are alone huh?” she raised her brows and smiled gently.

“Were you in trouble for breaking curfew?” she commented with a playful grin on her lips remembering his reason for needing to get home being that his dog was waiting for him to get home.

The candles flickered creating dancing light around the tent. The candles, the flowers, the silk behind them. It had been an idea in his mind for many weeks; now, it was here. He watched as the light flickered across her eyes and settled like a soft glow. Peace — it wasn’t something Caleb often thought about, but it surely was cherished. It had been several years now and finally he was at peace with his past. Lying here in the half-light, he felt safe. His hands knit with hers created soft shadows on the wall. Caleb ran his fingers across her arm in a shy touch. Despite what they’d shared in that barn, it seemed different in knowing that this step had been taken. The very thing he’d been afraid for so long felt calm when he was around her. It was no easy thing to move on, but the way his heart beat in his chest like a steady drum told him that it was time. 
Her green eyes were so gentle; it was like everything was new. He wasn’t sure what to do. Everything seemed so changed, yet so familiar. Despite the magical transformation, this was still their gazebo. It was the place he’d found someone else who understood everything he’d ever struggled through. The place where laughter had healed those wounds. The sounds of night were just beginning to stir. He didn’t know much about magic, but it had taken a very special touch from the aspect of magic to bring about a place so public, but so separated from the world. Caleb bit his lip. “I believe her bias is towards you. But, I must say that I think that I understand.” 

He was beginning to be biased as well. Biased to her voice and her touch, which seemed magnetic — always pulling him in, but never closing him off from anything else. It was like the world expanded around Octavia. His small life became inundated with color. Slowly, over the past year and a half, he’d watched his black and white world begin to change. He’d always loved the quiet, but quiet and together was so much preferable to quiet and alone. The grasp of her hand was warm and drew him closer. Only a whisper lay between them. “Not alone. Not anymore.” 

A sweet smile spread over his lips at the thought of his dog monitoring his time out. It was true that pets, like children, required quite a lot of attention. However, his loyal, furry friend had seemed to understand his night out. Tonight, Chasè was content at home with a brand new toy and treat to keep him company. Caleb wasn’t sure how many hours he could slip away, but all of them were welcome. He took a deep breath, caught between the words on her lips and conversation. “I managed to work it out with him. I think he just likes to see me...happy.” 

Elephants could have been parading around them, and he would not have noticed. Caleb felt his heart skip in his chest. How would he know what to do? He felt woefully inexperienced, but captivated by the attention of the young woman in front of him and the aura of lapping lake, outside. The young man leaned forwards, pulling her into his arms, until their eyes were only a blink apart. He bent his head, leaning in her direction. Instinct took over thought as he pressed his lips against hers. Ai, her touch was so calming and yet it thrilled him. His hands gently tangled around her face. Last night seemed far away now. Now was inevitable. Caleb felt his neck itch with warmth as they touched. This was not like kissing anyone else. “You can tell me to stop,” He said softly, opening his eyes to meet hers. “I’m listening.” 

Her eyes softened when he brought up that Mal’s bias was certainly towards her personal guard and she laughed under her breath “The two of us spend almost every day together, it’s impossible to hide anything from her” she spoke softly, the aspect of magic also had a lot of trouble hiding anything from the Nephilim too which is why she was impressed they had pulled this off “It’s kinda beautiful...being here of all places...I have a lot of fond memories about this place now” and she was glad they would be able to add another to it here.

She shifted a little, propping herself up with her arm so that she could gaze back into his oceanic eyes, she felt like she could get lost in them sometimes, mostly because he was so expressive and you could catch every little thing he was feeling by the way he stared “I don’t think we’ve been alone for a while now” she responded softly, they had been silently there for one another every night, he had become someone she could rely on to just be there and that was more comforting than he probably realized.

She couldn’t stop the smile that crept up on her lips when he explained how he had managed to work it out with his pup “He can tell huh?” she bit her bottom lip and then smiled sweetly “Animals are smart like that...I feel like they can read the situation far better than most people give them credit for” well except those who really knew them. She’d always thought about getting a pet “I’d love to meet him some time” she spoke softly and nodded, anyone important to Caleb was important to her after all.

She was aware of her heart as it fluttered in his chest the moment he started leaning closer, her gaze widening only to finally close softly when he finally bridged the gap between them and she felt the warmth of his gentle lips against hers. She returned the kiss, her hand coming up to rest against the back of his neck and stroking gently against his hair. Everything about him felt warm that it felt like her whole being was able to siphon some of it to keep. The moment he parted her eyes opened with a vulnerable expression “What if I wanted to tell you to...not stop” she spoke softly as her fingers curled a little tighter into his hair “Maybe I wanna be selfish for once” she confessed as she closed the gap between them.

It was surprising that they’d been able to keep this underwraps, until now. Despite having known one another for over a year and their paths sometimes crossing at the Ailward Manor, most of their relationship had been built in quiet evenings on the lake. There he had found a listening ear, some peace from his troubles, and finally, a hand to hold. For him, privacy was an essential part of life and now Octavia wasn’t just a friend; but someone that he could be himself around. It was much the same as it had been, but instead of sitting beside her, Caleb found himself tangled around her. It felt as natural as breathing and the nerves that had built up during the day of preparation began to relax.  He leaned back against the pile of soft pillows and closed his eyes inhaling her soft skin. Perhaps, he would not have hugged her so close if he hadn’t already known what it was to lose the chance for such things, but right now sadness was the furthest thing from his mind. These moments, surrounded by candle light and a soft breeze, would surely go down as a night he would remember. “Soon,” Caleb said. “I don’t think he would ever mind the extra attention.”

 If hiding away from the world with Octavia was selfish, Caleb wanted to put himself first. Right now, there was no one else grabbing his attention away from her and he liked that. He liked the way that time just seemed to stop, when he gazed into her eyes. They were green, usually, but as he looked for it, the purple seemed to sneak out bit by bit. It wasn’t something he’d ever known could exist which made the artist curious about how much more he’d always glazed over. As they lay quietly, wrapped together, the vulnerability that she expressed became ever more obvious. Caleb buried his face in her neck, holding her close . “Are you sure?” As he spoke, he found his lips giving himself away to her touch again, warm and surprising.  His eyes fluttered shut. There was nothing else apart from the growing warmth inside him. Caleb’s brows furrowed as their kiss as their kiss deepened.  There were so many questions that he had. Could it really be the right time?  “Slowly. We can...go slowly.”  

 Each question was only answered with connection. Even in his wondering, he melted against her, as a pair of soft hands knit into his hair. Yet, as they broke away, temporarily, and his uncertainty melted away. This was different. This was something that was worth all of those nights with teary eyes. Taking it slowly, he let his fingers wander up her sides and across her arms. Despite the winter around them, he was warm; their touch cheeks red, and his hair disheveled from her grasp.   It was like falling. He was drawn towards her. Caleb took a breath, guiding her hands towards the buttons on his shirt, while smiling against her lips. “You can be selfish. Anytime.” 

Caleb lived a really simple life compared to hers, a part of her was a little jealous about it sometimes because there was a time in her life when she had wanted the simple things but it had never been an option for her, being born a nephilim and into a family of dragonkin hunters, she had always been wrapped up in everything supernatural. She considered herself lucky to even be able to have a family at all after all of that “Who could blame him, everyone likes a little attention right” she tilted her head as she looked back into his eyes and smiled “Though he must be happy to have you, you totally spoil him don’t you?” she grinned playfully, he definitely seemed like the type to cherish those he kept close.

Moving forward was something difficult for her, she had lived for so long that her entire world had melded around the decisions she had made and yet all of a sudden, in a heartbreaking moment, everything was gone. It made her scared to feel again, she had spent the past year trying to push away everything but that only worked for so long. Being with Caleb felt like a safety net that would catch her if she fell while taking a step. She nodded her head slightly when he asked if she was sure “It doesn’t seem like such a crazy leap when I’m with you” she spoke it in a soft voice because it was new for her. Which was a strange thought to have considering how long she had lived and how many experiences she’d been through “I’ve never really been good” she spoke softly, it often spooked her so to let him in was a big step for her.

He felt warm against her, it was familiar but new at the same time, his hands were soft and he the way he moved was gentle, she could sense the questioning in the way he moved, tentative as though he was worried she might slip through his grip. His hair felt soft between her fingers, strands slipping between them as she stroked softly, using it to pull him in closer. With him the sadness she had felt faded away for a while. His every touch made her heart flutter just a little bit more, he was so gentle despite how his lips felt like they were consuming her in the kisses they shared. Slow wasn’t the word on her mind as her gaze lingered over him as her hands sank down onto his shoulders and then against his shirt. Her gaze lifted to him, biting her lip before she grinned slightly, undoing the buttons one at a time as her fingers grazed gently against his chest “You don’t have anywhere else to be tonight?” she spoke softly.

She wanted to just lose herself in him, for a little while she wanted to hide away from the world and be happy, happiness was something difficult for her to grasp because it felt like it might be ripped away at any moment. But that meant she should reach for it right? If happy moments were fleeting then it seemed unwise to let any more slip away.

It didn’t been that long ago that Caleb had sworn he would only be with one person for the rest of his life. He hadn’t thought about moving on for years. A few years ago, Caleb would have been content spending the rest of his life in his small house with his dog, the ducks, and the sunset. His pets often provided more than enough socialisation and the few friends that he had were more likely to drag him places than he was to venture to them. He hadn’t thought about moving on until Octavia. There was something so familiar about her, yet so different to everything he’d ever loved before. It was calmer, certainly. She seemed far more willing to meet him in the quiet than others ever had. He appreciated that more than he was able to properly express. Those few people that he ever let into his life were ones that he loved very deeply. They were people who had seen everything that he was and stayed. Even on the bad days, even through the nightmares, even in the grief. He tilted his head. “, I don’t let people in very easily, you know?” Another, soft kiss. “Dog, or human, or nephilim, once...I find someone that I click with I would do anything in power to make them happy.”  

He took a slow, deep breath. He was nervous, but trying very hard to hide that. It had always been for this reason that he’d gotten drunk as a youngster before sleeping with someone. His long gone partner had finally persuaded him out of that, but it had taken years. Afterwards, he had still never been the bold one. Tonight was a lot for him. The entire idea of being alone, in their special place, away from the eyes of the world with the similar intention of getting closer made his heart beat faster. He understood what she meant. For so long, he’d sworn that he’d be content alone. Yet, there was something about her that made him not want to be. “I understand.” He said. “I am worried of forgetting.” Forgetting his family. How everything had been before.

His voice trailed off as their lips met again, wistful, treasuring each second. It surprised him as she took his invitation towards the buttons. He’d wondered if it would continue, even if it should; but each one smoothly opened, until his shoulders were almost visible and he could feel her fingers on his skin. “Me either, but I am willing to change with you.” 

Caleb glanced up into her eyes and gently traced his fingers along her jaw, cupping it, as he kissed her again. The anxiety faded as he did. There had been worries about the fact that he hadn’t been hitting the gym, but as his shirt fell away from his body, Caleb ignored them. He reached up and wound his hands through her curly hair, letting the silky strands softly knit around his fingers.“I didn’t plan this.” He admitted. “I planned dinner and some music,” Another kiss, warm, soft. “This was not planned.”  

Wished for, perhaps. In a dream that Caleb had barely been able to admit to, until a few nights ago. Bit by bit, Octavia had opened a door that had been shut for years. This was a door that he had burned and buried and sworn he would never touch again, but when he was with her, it evaporated. Whatever happened tonight, he knew that he would never be quite the same.

Her gazed softened a little when he mentioned how he didn’t let people in easily, she had noticed that from the way he always seemed to go quiet and reserved in the time they had been talking, she recognized that as a sign he’d reached his limit when it came to prying and they would often sit in silence for a while. “I get that...less people in...less people out right” she offered a half-smile which he kissed against between his words “Being happy is more complicated than most give it credit for” she confessed in a quiet voice as her fingers stroked gently against his cheek.

He seemed to have been through so much for someone so young, she would have believed he’d lived many more years than he had. She could almost feel the temperature heating up as the two of them found themselves locked in one another’s gaze. She kept wondering if one of them were going to back down but neither of them seemed to want to. She had to admit she was nervous, she’d never slept with someone who wasn’t Vlad after all. “If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you never really forget” she assured as her hand came to rest against his chest.

He was gorgeous, anyone could see that and despite his nervous and timid demeanor, his body gave off a sense of confidence which told her he took good care of it. She surprised herself with the speed at which this moved but when she thought about it, it had been a much longer time coming than anyone but them knew. They had slowly opened themselves to one another and felt right to her. “Me too” she commented as she bit softly on her lip.

Her eyes were mostly focused on him, his gaze captivating her in a way that was hard to describe, his fingers felt soft against her hair and she couldn’t help but giggle as she leaned in closer, her lips only centimeters from his “Well then we still have dinner and music to look forward to” she teased softly as she smiled into the kiss he gave her, pushing herself up so that she could straddle herself over him and lean down to press a kiss against his lips. The time felt like it was slipping away as she allowed herself to give in to the desires she harbored, in his caress and the way he felt. It was felt right.


There were not a lot of words for what happened next. For the most part, he simply surrendered to each moment, until it built into the next. As he gave in, Caleb could feel all of the tension from the last few weeks fly off his shoulders and into her arms. When her fingers crossed into his hair and he rolled the covers off them. Before long, their clothes were all over the floor and the blankets on the bed had become their hideaway. It had been a crazy three days, but everything seemed to be falling into place. He was not sure how long it took for them to emerge from that cozy cave of kisses. By the time they had a soft evening glow of sunset sprayed through the invisible curtains that hid them from the rest of the world. He couldn’t have named every thought or feeling that existed right then. It might tapke him several days to process what had just happened between them. Typically, Caleb liked things to be the same. Keeping them that way left little room for doubt. He had very rarely strayed from his simplicity and into desires until Octavia showed up. He’d held that back a long time, even as they spent time together. The past hour had been an exploration of so many times his imagination had wandered away without him. Caleb lazily traced a pattern on Octavia’s bare shoulder as he lay against the pillows. “That was…” There had been little talking with words. Most of the communication had been purely physical. “Surprising, but delightful.” 

He sat up halfway, his shirt still missing. He’d never done something like this before, but despite that this was technically their first date, it had been a connection that had been built for so long now. His cheeks were red from the warmth. “Did that live up to your expectations?” 

He’d grown up without a lot of men in his life. While that had accentuated his ability to listen and compassionate nature, it had been more than a little awkward to hear about the birds and the bees from his aunt.  By the time that he met his father, it was much too late to ask him so many of the questions that he’d had as a boy. But,  slowly, he’d found that asking questions made him both a better person and a better partner.  There was always something to learn. Caleb reached for his pants and settled against the tower of pillows. His guitar was still tucked away in the corner. He had barely touched it since bringing it back from Paris, but playing music had once been one of the many ways he entertained himself. He reached for the instrument, carefully adjusting the strings, which had fallen slightly out of tune. Despite the break, he still remembered the notes like old friends. Caleb had always played by ear. Actual music made very little sense to him. As he adjusted, the soft practice chords slowly transformed into a familiar melody.


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